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Reformed smoker: Manila mayor quits… then orders city-wide crackdown



They often say reformed smokers are the worst culprits when it comes to nagging those who still enjoy tobacco.

Now, just days after announcing he had quit himself, Manila Mayor Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada has announced a city-wide ban.

The former president was laid up in hospital shortly before Christmas with asthmatic bronchitis and revealed on Monday that he had quit smoking.

In the next wheezing breath, the former president ordered the “intensified citywide implementation of a smoking ban”.

“We will start at city hall. I enjoin everyone, from rank-and-file employees to department heads and even city councillors, to comply with this anti-smoking ordinance. We will be very strict,” he said.

In line with his order, city hall employees can light up in only three designated areas at city hall.

Estrada has also said that he has “started chewing sugar-free medicated lozenges after being discharged from the hospital as an alternative to smoking”.

His public information officer Mikee Falcis told reporters that the 79-year-old had asked Manileños “to follow his example” and quit smoking.

“Love your heart, quit smoking. For the sake of your family and loved ones, stop smoking. It won’t do you any good,” Falcis quoted Estrada as saying.

On December 21, Erap, a longtime smoker, was confined at Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan City after he supposedly came down with pneumonia.

He was released after a few days with his family clarifying that he had been diagnosed with asthmatic bronchitis.

This is not the first time a Manila mayor has ordered the enforcement of City Ordinance No. 7748, which prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places.

In 2011, Mayor Alfredo Lim went as far as to order the arrest of violators.

Since becoming mayor in 2013, this is the second time that Erap has tried to quit smoking. In 2014, he told reporters that he had kicked the habit because he wanted to be healthy. He lasted just two weeks.

About 17 million people, or nearly a third of the adult population, smoke in the Philippines — the second highest in the region after Indonesia — according to a 2014 report by Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance.

Nearly half of all Filipino men and nine per cent of women smoke and experts say the habit costs the economy nearly $4 billion in healthcare and productivity losses every year.

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